We were 17 gathered for dinner on Christmas Day, the youngest coming up to her second birthday and the eldest in her late 80s.
A cadre of young wives and husbands prepared dinner – millennials of all genders love to cook – while in the chimney corner, three older men sat together and the conversation turned to politics.
Two of us were Albertans and the third was from the rural Fraser Valley in British Columbia.
“Alberta will have an interesting year,” said the United Conservative Party stalwart who is working with a large group of volunteers in his constituency on policy to be deliberated at the May founding convention.
As our dialogue progressed, it was clear that he meant “an interesting year” in the ironic sense of a discordant one.
At the centre of the conflict is the choice that Albertans will face in the general election of 2019 between the philosophy and policies of the NDP government and those of the UCP Opposition.
The overriding issues are the government’s spending problem, which is creating deficit and debt, and settling the matter of who will guide the economy for the next decade.
The choice is between the doctrinaire socialist and public sector union coalition that Premier Rachel Notley has welded together, or the business, farm and urban middle class coalition that is gathering in Jason Kenny’s big tent.
In the coming 12 months, let’s clear the field for two combatants – UCP and NDP – and let them have a once-in-a-lifetime battle to decide the matter.
We, the eligible voters, will rule on who will survive – thumbs-up or thumbs-down – when we go to the polls in 2019.
There is no third option, in spite of the efforts of the Liberal and Alberta parties to create one.
British Columbia, politically paralyzed by the chokehold that the tiny Green Party faction has in the legislature on the minority NDP, illustrates the dangers of left-leaning government and minority government.
There is another definitive political choice to be made in 2018.
Who will make the choice between UCP and NDP?
Will the millennial generation (born 1977 to 1995) and Gen-Z take part in political life and vote in the 2019 general election?
These two generations together represent 48 per cent of the North American population (a higher percentage in youthful Alberta) and are the largest bloc of eligible voters.
They could dominate our political life.
But they do not vote or volunteer for political campaigns in large numbers.
When they do, however, they are very committed and tend to be more ideological than their parents and grandparents.
The millennials value technology, teamwork, transparency and having a lasting personal impact.
Gen-Z is less well defined, however it is distinguished by its presence on the Internet and the use of technology and social media to the degree that it has been labelled the “iGeneration”.
They are more tolerant, have a stronger social conscience and worry less about government debt than their elders, but are not predisposed to either the political left or right.
These traits are ripe for political recruitment by both the UCP and NDP.
– Frank Dabbs is a veteran political and business journalist and author.
“The overriding issues are the government’s spending problem, which is creating deficit and debt, and settling the matter of who will guide the economy for the next decade.”